Artists in the Archives: 60 Years of 56 Group Wales

16 April – 10 September 2016

This exhibition explores sixty years of 56 Group Wales, one of the longest established exhibiting groups of professional artists in Wales. It comprises a selection from the Group's extensive archive, recently donated to the Library, complemented by artworks mainly from the Library's collection.

The '56 Group' was founded in 1956 by Cardiff College of Art lecturers Eric Malthouse and David Tinker with artist and architect Michael Edmonds. While the Group was strongly influenced by international movements in art, notably abstraction, in practice the work was more diverse. It became a powerful exhibiting force and showed widely in Wales and England.

From 1967 it adopted the name '56 Group Wales',  took the first of many prestigious exhibitions to the Continent and doubled in size. Its activity, success in obtaining support from public bodies and perceived enthraldom to Anglo-American values, however, ensured that its presence in Wales was not universally appreciated. It has, nevertheless, played a significant role in stimulating discussion about contemporary art and in raising the profile of the professional artist in Wales. Despite fluctuating fortunes, critical responses and changes in its character the Group flourishes today.

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The National Library of Wales Renovation Programme

The North Reading Room will be temporarily closed as a Reading Room from 22 May 2019, and its services will move to The South Reading Room. Find out more on our Building Works page.